010518-Bald-Eagle-Days-2018-008

Hoyt Reec 7 of Springfield, IL., works his way up the climbing wall, Friday, January 5, 2018, during Bald Eagle Days being held at the QCCA Expo Center in Rock Island. The event runs all weekend.

I am a transplant to the Quad Cities and moved here last year to start a post-graduation engineering career at Deere & Co. Although I have been pleased with the assortment of outdoor activities in the Quad Cities, the one thing we are missing is a dedicated rock climbing or bouldering facility.

Rock climbing has never been more popular following Alex Honnold’s documentary, "Free Solo" and its induction as a competitive sport in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Even though rock climbing has been an outdoor sport for decades, indoor climbing facilities allow members to climb regardless of the weather at varying levels of difficulty.

Indoor rock climbing walls provide fun and entertainment for adults and children of all ages. After-school programs or summer camps teach kids valuable problem-solving skills while burning off extra energy. Adults can get a low impact workout that improves flexibility, balance, and most of all, grip strength. They are great places to meet people, develop friendships, and build a strong, active community.

There are also elements to an indoor climbing complex that cater to different needs, and it is easy to start climbing with no experience. Bouldering walls are lower to the ground and don’t require the use of a harness, so anyone with basic safety training can start climbing within minutes. Top roping builds excellent communication and trust skills that challenge a climber’s endurance up a taller wall.

I am lucky to have found a group of friends who share my passion for rock climbing and we regularly travel to indoor climbing gyms in places like Peoria, Iowa City, and Des Moines. When we must travel to different cities for these experiences, there is a significant amount of social and economic opportunity lost in our local community.

This is a call for all local entrepreneurs, sports enthusiasts, and venture capitalists: The Quad Cities needs an indoor rock climbing wall. By opening an indoor climbing wall, we provide the space for community members of all ages to participate in this contemporary, challenging, and inclusive sport. Without it, we are seriously missing out.

Meredith Biechele, a resident of Moline, is an engineer.